Searchlights & Signal Flares


Tiny Lights' On-line Writer's Exchange

Have you learned anything from rejection? (07/15/08)



Featured writer: Milton Trachtenburg



Contributors this month:
Nancy Wallace-Nelson
Barbara Shine
Betty Rodgers
Charles Markee
Christine Falcone
David S. Johnson
Don Edgers
Iseult Murphy
Jessica Hoard
Margaret A. Frey
Milton Trachtenburg
Vlatka Herzberg


Have You Learned Anything From Rejection?

by Milton Trachtenburg

Writing for publication is much like hitting a baseball. No hitter ever gets a hit every at bat, no writer ever gets everything he writes accepted. Rejection is as much a part of writing as making an out is to hitting. You have several choices: You can learn from experience. You can grow from what you learned or make the same mistake forever.

Published writers learn important lessons from rejection: First, there are standards in the writing industry. When you attain them, your work will be published by someone. Second, each publisher looks for something different. Researching the needs of each publisher to whom you submit is essential to success. If you send erotica to a publisher of Christian children's stories, you will be rejected. Third, your own evaluation of your publication-worthiness is worthless. The way to grow is to allow others with some degree of skill to evaluate your work long before you submit it.

Editors aren't perfect. The may allow a gem to slip past their desks, but if a hundred out of a hundred give a thumbs-down to the same work, there are only two possibilities: First, the work lacks some quality that published work requires, or, you have chosen the wrong publishers to send it to.

What do editors look for? First, they look for work that fits their publication or, in the case of a book, work that blends with their portfolio. Most publishing houses have specialties. If a publisher sells literate fiction, no matter how good your genre novel, they will not accept it. A magazine aimed at an audience of retirement age readers will not want the best story about pregnancy - unless the focus is grandparenting.

Most writers learn these facts not when they first need them but by the process of making mistakes. I did. Once you get a scathing rejection stating, "How dare you submit an article on baby formulae to the La Leche League Magazine," you quickly learn to research your publications more effectively. At the same time, perhaps there is a hint that the writing may be perfect for the pamphlets that Similac sends to all its customers.

Some editors will send encouraging words with a rejection: "Well written, but not for my publication." That is as good as an acceptance. Find the publication that fits what you are writing.

When an editor is nice enough to send a negative critique, do not reject the rejection. Read it carefully. It may contain the answers to what kept your writing from being accepted. Early in my career, I received just such a rejection. It said, "Your writing is powerful but you sometimes tend to slip into a passive voice which takes away from the strength of your work."

So, "A ball was seen rolling down the street" became I saw a ball rolling down the street." Well, not quite that simple, but you get the point. I got it and it paid off handsomely.

Keep it within the word limits!


Milton Trachtenburg is a writer whose new edition of "Stop the Merry-Go-Round: Stories of Women who Broke the Cycle of Abusive Relationships" has recently been accepted by ePress for re-publication. It should be in press by year's end.

The Teachings of Rejection

  by Nancy Wallace-Nelson

Five years of high-school Latin, and two quarters of college study force roots upon me: the roots of our English words which offer more than we usually notice or acknowledge. "Rejection" is an easy one: "re" is back or back upon; and "jection" is from "jecto, jecare" meaning "to throw". Therefore,"rejection" literally means that something I sent out into the world is being thrown back to me, or back upon my desk. Some piece of writing that I composed and sent out to some potential home in a magazine or book is being returned to me. It is thrown back into my court, my arena, and it is still intact, whole, the same piece of writing I mailed off and offered in the first place.

Intrinsically speaking, the act of "rejection" does nothing to ruin or alter my original offering. It is clearly the exact same piece of writing that I submitted. It is not less than, or more than what I submitted. It simply did not meet the needs or desires of the editor or critics to whom I submitted. The analogy I often use with clients is that of a physical gift, as a crystal vase purchased for a wedding gift. The vase is an intrinsically shining, clear piece of glass pickling up the sun's rays and sparking. But, if for some reason the bride and/or the groom do not like the vase, either because they do not like glass or do not like the shape or think it too sophisticated, that does not change the basic beauty of the vase. It certainly does not mean the vase should be discarded or the giver feel stupid or inadequate. The vase simply did not meet the tastes or the needs of those to whom the gift was offered. In the best of all possible worlds, the giver should get the vase back and enjoy using it.

Unfortunately, however, something in the cultural contamination around "rejection" has added "away" to "back", so now we are throwing the offered thing "away", and discarding it. We add all sorts of words around rejection that mean to deny, to refuse, or to fail to use. The clear message is that it is not going to be used because it is undesirable. Thus, we have created an aura of failure and inadequacy around any and every experience of rejection.

But instead of that doomful stamp of failure, I would like to suggest that there can be a playful connotation to rejection. The act of "throwing back" suggests the beginning of a game. Some ball, as a tennis ball or ping pong ball, is being returned, or a golf ball is being readied for the next hole, or the music has returned to the first chords, calling for the dance to be continued and re-affirmed . What is being returned is to be kept in play, not abandoned or discarded as inadequate.

I would be a liar if I claimed that I've become an ace at this game of "rejection". When a drama teacher said he would not work with me on either of the two short plays I've written, clearly because he didn't like them, I was devastated. I value his opinion, so I let myself begin to think they are unworthy. But I have another playwright friend who said to me, "So now you've met the 25%who will not like your writing. Move on and find the other 75%." I took those words to memory.

Daily I am improving. I visualize my written words as a bright, multi-colored ball. It's my job to keep it in motion. If it's not moving out into the world again and again, it can never find the other 75%.

Nancy Liela Wallace-Nelson is a Mendocino writer, who teaches life skills and motivation, and who sees gratitude as a vital life skill. Personally, she’s deeply grateful to Susan Bono for the large light she is to creative writers.


Top 9 Things I’ve Learned From Rejection

  by Barbara Shine

9. Sometimes fate puts my essay into the wrong editor's pile of manuscripts, resulting in the "nice, but not our thing" rejection.

8. Sometimes an editor takes a bad night's sleep or a hangover into the office and shoots out terse form letters all day, no matter who has submitted.

7. When an editor rejects a piece of my writing, it's not a judgment of my personal worth or my potential.

6. A rejection from one editor is a sign it's time to submit to another — quickly.

5. A form letter rejection is a kick to the shins; a handwritten note is a consoling hug.

4. A detailed rejection letter is like a free expert consultation, and I should attend to the advice offered.

3. Some editors do not read cover letters, or so their rejection letters suggest. [I once sent what I thought was a perfect essay, about my mother-in-law and me, for an upcoming theme issue on "generations" and gave my thoughts on its appropriateness. The editor's note suggested I check the guidelines for planned themes before submitting.]

2. Some editors are just blind to my particular brand of talent, so my search for the right editor and the right publication has to keep going forward.

1. Even the biggest, ugliest rejection can't put a dent in my determination to publish.

Barbara Shine is a freelance writer and editor, collage artist, and victim advocate whose co-authored anthology, The Pen Is Mightier Than the Broom, was published in 2006. Visit Barbara at www.bshinewrites.com.

Have You Learned Anything From Rejection?

  by Betty Rodgers

Rejection has taught me to believe in myself. No—I'm serious. It's pretty simple, really. I'm the recent recipient of a small grey notice returned in my SASE. Just getting the envelope tells you everything you need to know. Furthermore, it came from a good friend who is publishing an anthology. I was so pleased with my short story that I just knew she'd take it. So sure that I sent it with a pseudonym and a PO box for the return address because I wanted to surprise her when she contacted me with the good news. The story perfectly fit her call for entries, theme and all. And yet the envelope came. You know the routine: "Dear Writer: Thanks for submitting…"

My first known rejection occurred when my birth father divorced my mother and me before I turned two. Flat out didn't want us in his life anymore. Married the woman he'd had an affair with who had a son, and all-of-a-sudden, so did he. Guess he wanted someone else's son more than his own daughter.

Truth is, he did us a favor. He wasn't much of a person or a lover—forced himself on Mother without so much as a kiss. That's probably how I was conceived…by forced entry. It's a wonder her body didn't spit me out immediately. After allowing my stepdad to adopt me, my birth father stayed in touch about once a year. He even offered to whisk me into his real estate business. This was later in his life after "his son" died of congenital heart failure. Sometimes we are the rejector instead of the rejectee. I told him, "No." What I really meant was, "Hell, no. Why would I want to hurt my mother all over again by moving away, only to partner with you?"

Anyway, every life is full of rejection. Yet what somebody else thinks of me doesn't change for one second who I am. They might find no value in my input, or exclude me from their anthology, but I can decide for myself if I will simply move on to the next opportunity or perhaps allow it to steer me back to the drawing board. The decision is ultimately mine. There's something to be said for the proverb that when a door closes, a window opens. Give me some of that marvelous fresh air.

Betty Rodgers accepts affirmation in Boise, Idaho. She can be reached at bettykrodgers@msn.com,
and is often found checking her email, tending her potted plants, or in search of the ultimate peanut butter cookie recipe.


A Thing or Two

  by Charles Markee

What I have learned from rejections:

1. It cost me 42-cents more for each submittal to get one unless they arrive as an email.
2. Form letters are designed and written by diplomats who secretly work for my inner critic.
3. When the response takes more than a year, there is a handwritten comment apologizing for the delay.
4. There are more people employed sending rejections than there are editors and agents reading manuscripts.
5. Rejection Employees Anonymous Character Teardown (REACT) is a clandestine organization that subsidizes rejections and is funded by Anger Management Counselors Associated.

However, when a rejection includes a real constructive comment, it's like a blast of pure oxygen. It doesn't take much to encourage me. For example, one editor's comment directed me to a writer's reference that really helped. Another explained her subjective level of disbelief in the fantasy—valuable information. I savor this kind of feedback. It's worth a lot more than 42-cents.

Charles Markee, Santa Rosa middle-grade novel writer and film critic.


Have You Learned Anything From Rejection?

  by Christine Falcone

I've had my share of rejection—both in terms of unrequited love and in my writing. And both feel awful. It's like having a door shut in your face. Sometimes it's even like a slap across the face. But what rejection has taught me is that I'm a lot stronger than I ever imagined. I haven't crumbled. I haven't dissolved into dust particles. I've stood my ground, maybe wobbled a little, lost my footing, but I haven't let it break me. I've taken up my own cause, put forward the best foot I have, and like a pack mule, carried on.

There is that dry spell, though, in between, like when you get the wind knocked out of you and for a few interminable seconds, you can't breathe. It's literally impossible to take in a breath. That's the time that's the hardest for me—right after the rejection happens, when I'm waiting to take my next breath. That's the time that fear and self-doubt runs rampant. It's the pause between rejection and acceptance that I have to dig deep for faith—faith in my self, faith in the process, faith in life, especially in the knowledge that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.

There are no accidents. And it's seeking and finding this faith, this inner strength that's taught me so much about myself: who I am, that I am worthy, and that my work does matter. So rejection has shown me my own resilience, that I have faith (which I didn't even know I had) and most importantly, that I have to believe in myself. If I don't, nobody else will.

Christine Falcone is learning to handle rejection in Novato, California, where her writing is taking a backseat this summer.

The Joy of Not Catching the Big One

  by David S. Johnson

If I've learned anything from rejection (or rather rejections), it's that there are innumerable ways to say "no."

"Dear Mr. Johnson, We regret to inform you…"

"After careful consideration…."

"Thank you for your submission. At this time…"

"…and please never submit here again."

Fisherman invoke an insufferable phrase when rejected by fish, "It's called ‘fishing,' not ‘catching.'" In analogue writers could say, "It's called ‘writing,' not ‘publishing.'" But I think it's the not catching aspect that makes fishing exciting.

Two years ago, I went fishing with two friends in Barataria Bay with hopes of landing the ‘big one.' We hit the water just as the sun stretched its arms above the horizon. By 9 A.M. the water was dead still and the fierce heat crisped my skin and we were fishless. Cast after cast yielded nothing for two more hours until Jerry caught a small speckled trout (aka a "speck"). Mark and I eagerly flung our popping corks into the same area hoping for a hit. Mark and Jerry caught a few more fish, but I got nothing. As soon as the fishing died down for them we moved along. They pulled fish out of Redfish Bay and Creole Bay. I pulled up nothing. All day I watched them pull up fish after fish. Cast after cast, fish rejected my line while eagerly gobbling up someone else's.

I pouted. I stomped on my pole. I yelled at the stupid fish. I kicked the side of the boat. I flipped off the mocking gulls. But I did not give up. At the end of the day, as the sun pulled the cover of the horizon over its shoulders, I cast one more time before it was too dark to fish. I snapped the pole to force the cork make the distinctive pop that sounds like the mouth of a fish striking the water's surface. Nothing. I snapped again. Nothing. Three more snaps and I was almost at the boat and done with my useless day of fishing. Then the cork torpedoed below the surface. I quickly landed one of the miserably smallest specks I'd ever seen. The tiny fish was either ravenous or ambitious to swallow such a large hook. My joy at catching such a small fish was enormous. That fish, that tiny fish, floated my heels and I could have walked on water. I had three pictures taken with my catch.

All of my literary lures have been rejected by scores of editorial big fish. But occasionally I get a hit, typically from a small press publication.

"Dear Mr. Johnson, I am pleased to inform you…"

Those are words to have your picture taken with. Had I landed The New Yorker or The Atlantic Monthly repeatedly, then my small publication may simply have been tossed back. But in a sea of rejection, a small press publication is a great catch.



David Samuel Johnson is rejected by fish and editors in Baton Rouge, LA.
www.impeccablepeccadillo.com


The Smartest of the Dumb Kids

  by Don Edgers

In the 6th grade my teacher made it clear that I was a reject scholar when she said, "You are the smartest of the dumb kids!" I mended my ways, became an overachiever and improved my status to become the dumbest of the smart kids.

Upon applying to graduate school, I was rejected by the Dean of my school in a letter which said, "—you lack the apparent ability to succeed in your chosen field." In a letter of protest I fired off a retort, resulting in: "You have been accepted by the college for advanced studies." Two years later I received a Masters Degree.

After working on a historical memoir for 10 years, I sent many queries to agents and publishers located somewhere in the area of the Bermuda Triangle (judging from the long waits for replies and postal rate hikes where I had to shell out $ to claim my SASE with the form rejection). Not wishing to meet my demise, like some of my contemporary writing colleagues, I researched several POD publishers, choosing the cheapest one on the advice of someone who'd self-published three books.

This turned out to be sound advice, as there were many errors that had to be made before sending copies to reviewers and columnists. When I asked a book reviewer for three city newspapers if I could send a book for review, she rejected my query with, "I'm sorry, your book's been out two years—you needed to ask me sooner."

I responded, "The book hasn't been reviewed by anyone else, and it's a self-published historical memoir dealing with Puget Sound in the 1940s. It's not like you've been scooped by somebody else."
Her response, "Good for you! Because you persisted, I'll give it a read." The review appeared two months later, resulting in many books sold and several speaking engagements. In the five years since coming out, almost 900 copies have been sold.

My self-published nonmusical opus's might be compared to my time of being ‘the smartest of the dumb kids.' My recently traditionally published book, I think, has brought me to the status of ‘the dumbest of the smart.' Thus, I have learned from rejection that if you treat it as a temporary roadblock, you will eventually get on the road to success.



If Don Edgers of Port Orchard, WA, who resides with his wife of nearly 43 years, should meet his maker any time now, he will die a happy writer/author knowing his books are in bookshelves everywhere.
www.anislandintime.com


Ranting gets you nowhere

  by Iseult Murphy

I have been traveling the rocky path of writing for a few years now and have accumulated enough rejection slips to reconstitute a small tree, and I have learned certain things from my experiences.

1. Ice cream makes the pain go away.

2. Screaming ‘Die Editor, Die!' doesn't accomplish anything.

3. You can never have too many tissues.

Joking aside, I have learned a lot from rejection. It is the fire that tempers the steel of the new writer. While the sentence "We're going to pass on your story" has become my least favourite in the English language, I have come to cherish every editor who goes that extra mile in their rejection letter and gives me some feedback on my story. Everybody says it, but I have finally managed not to take rejection personally. I've learned to send my work out to a new market quicker after a rejection, or to do the work necessary to improve it before sending it out again. I've learned to work hard on making my stories as best as they can be before I submit them and to research my markets thoroughly to make sure I will have less chance of getting them back again. Most of all, I've learned that all the things I've learned from rejection have helped me to turn the "We'll pass on this one" into "We're delighted to accept your work." Overall, my motto is from that sweet science fiction film ‘Galaxy Quest' - Never surrender, never give up!

Iseult Murphy battles rejection on the sunny east coast of Ireland. Her short story ‘Who’s for dinner?’ will be featured in the upcoming anniversary edition of Alienskin Magazine. Follow her writing journey at theinkpotfiles.blogspot.com/


The Wisdom My Guru and Constant Companion, Rejection, has Generously Bestowed Upon Me

  by Jessica Hoard

That with rejection, everyone must have his turn. I just seem to keep skipping to the head of the line.

That all the rejection really does make success that much sweeter. Though, honestly, it really doesn't take that much rejection to make it sweeter. Success is actually pretty sweet as it is. Maybe a few less rejections, one or two a year, would be sufficient. I'm willing to try it.

That potato chips, cheap wine, and M*A*S*H reruns only mask the pain temporarily.

That the human mind has boundless powers of rationalization when one needs to call upon them.

That all the words of optimism and support from all the friends and fellow writers, as well meant as they are, aren't as much comfort as the words, "They rejected my piece too." Sad to say, but true. It's not that we don't want are friends to be successful, we just don't want them to be more successful than we are.

That maybe I really should consider a day job. (snicker) Let's not get carried away.

That pride is a bitch of a master. There is nothing like someone telling you you're not good enough to make you work harder to prove that you are. For a writer, that can be a very good thing.

That sometimes, they could be right. It's worth a second look.

That, despite whatever the editor of the publication du jour had to say, it hasn't changed how my cats feel about me. Still indifferent.

That, seeing as I continue to keep writing and submitting despite rejection, either I just can't take a hint, I'm incredibly pigheaded, or I may be stronger than I give myself credit for.

That despite the seemingly overwhelming evidence to the contrary at times, life will in fact go on, whether you like it or not.

Jessica Hoard is a writer and photographer living in Memphis, TN. You can see her photography at www.myspace.com/jchoard or read her new blog at jchoard.blogspot.com/.

Have You Learned Anything From Rejection? By

  by Margaret A. Frey

What a question!

"Reject: refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use [rejected the suggestion; reject a manuscript].
"
There we go: "reject a manuscript." Definition 1a, example 2, according to Merriam-Webster, says it all. I'd wager a writer wrote that entry.

A rejection can make us cry in our soup, boo-hoo over our coffee or even angrily slurp our evening wine. But here's a thought:

Rejection makes us better.

Am I crazy or hopelessly deluded? No, simply
seasoned like a spring pig.

I could tell you that I've been rejected by the best and have enough rejection slips to circumnavigate the globe. True enough. But I can also say that each rejection spurs another revision, another consideration, and that a manuscript rejected by one editor often finds a suitable home elsewhere. It happens more often than not.

Does that make rejection easy? Never. But then, why should it? To be rejected is to be spurned, turned away, as if you and your efforts don't matter.

Well, for lovers, perhaps. For writers? Not always.

A rejection, may in fact say: your story, essay, poem is not quite right for us [the particular venue], or your writing style doesn't fit our needs, or this particular work needs additional time to brew and develop. Rejection can prod us to work, and then work again until every sentence sings and a piece we once thought good becomes exceptional. How we define rejection depends on who we are, where we are in our development as working artists and whether the venue to which we submit is a solid fit.

Rejection also means we're winging our work into the world, a risky enterprise. We can avoid any and all rejection if we keep our literary jewels safe and secure on our hard drives. But I don't know of "any" writer, regardless of how promising, who has not faced rejection during his or her career.

In the long run, rejection makes us better. It also makes us unafraid, even brave. To write is a presumptuous, ballsy act. As writers, we are saying to the world: I have something to say, something of value and I demand you [the reader] listen. It also says, I'm willing to stick my neck out with my words and thoughts, with my very heart.

Make no mistake, writing is not for the faint-hearted. Writing is a compulsive-obsessive vocation. We scribble because we cannot help ourselves, and there will always be the risk of ridicule, criticism and flat-out rejection.

But refusal can make us evermore steely and strong like a finely wrought sword tempered by fire.

For every writer, rejection is a necessary part of what we are and what we can still become. Think of it as a challenge because that's what it is. Think of it as a badge of honor, and then sit down and begin to write, again.

Margaret A. Frey writes from the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Though she’s published well over 100 stories and essays, her rejections are legendary in number. Margaret lives with her husband John and her canine literary critic, Ruffian. She can be reached at:mafrey@tds.net


Have You Learned Anything From Rejection?

  by Milton Trachtenburg

Writing for publication is much like hitting a baseball. No hitter ever gets a hit every at bat, no writer ever gets everything he writes accepted. Rejection is as much a part of writing as making an out is to hitting. You have several choices: You can learn from experience. You can grow from what you learned or make the same mistake forever.

Published writers learn important lessons from rejection: First, there are standards in the writing industry. When you attain them, your work will be published by someone. Second, each publisher looks for something different. Researching the needs of each publisher to whom you submit is essential to success. If you send erotica to a publisher of Christian children's stories, you will be rejected. Third, your own evaluation of your publication-worthiness is worthless. The way to grow is to allow others with some degree of skill to evaluate your work long before you submit it.

Editors aren't perfect. The may allow a gem to slip past their desks, but if a hundred out of a hundred give a thumbs-down to the same work, there are only two possibilities: First, the work lacks some quality that published work requires, or, you have chosen the wrong publishers to send it to.

What do editors look for? First, they look for work that fits their publication or, in the case of a book, work that blends with their portfolio. Most publishing houses have specialties. If a publisher sells literate fiction, no matter how good your genre novel, they will not accept it. A magazine aimed at an audience of retirement age readers will not want the best story about pregnancy - unless the focus is grandparenting.

Most writers learn these facts not when they first need them but by the process of making mistakes. I did. Once you get a scathing rejection stating, "How dare you submit an article on baby formulae to the La Leche League Magazine," you quickly learn to research your publications more effectively. At the same time, perhaps there is a hint that the writing may be perfect for the pamphlets that Similac sends to all its customers.

Some editors will send encouraging words with a rejection: "Well written, but not for my publication." That is as good as an acceptance. Find the publication that fits what you are writing.

When an editor is nice enough to send a negative critique, do not reject the rejection. Read it carefully. It may contain the answers to what kept your writing from being accepted. Early in my career, I received just such a rejection. It said, "Your writing is powerful but you sometimes tend to slip into a passive voice which takes away from the strength of your work."

So, "A ball was seen rolling down the street" became I saw a ball rolling down the street." Well, not quite that simple, but you get the point. I got it and it paid off handsomely.

Keep it within the word limits!


Milton Trachtenburg is a writer whose new edition of "Stop the Merry-Go-Round: Stories of Women who Broke the Cycle of Abusive Relationships" has recently been accepted by ePress for re-publication. It should be in press by year's end.

Have You Learned Anything From Rejection?

  by Vlatka Herzberg

Rejection sat across the table from me and asked for a chat. At first I tried to ignore it and pretend it wasn't there, but it kept clearing its throat and shifting its chair and generally being annoying until I was forced to give it my attention.

At first I sat quiet and we stared each other down until I blinked. I always blink. Then I smiled and tried to make polite chit chat but Rejection held its ground, firm and constant. I slowed my breathing down, relaxed in my chair. I imagined roots shooting out my feet into the earth to ground me. I imagined vines with lush green leaves spreading across the walls all around me. A tree sprouted between us and grew to maturity. Rejection moved the branches and continued its steady stare, waiting. It had something to say. I said, "Ok, go ahead. I think I'm ready now."

Rejection cleared its throat again and said, "Sometimes I come and visit you because I have nothing better to do, sometimes I come because you are not willing to succeed, or you're afraid of the big what if…."

"What if?" I asked, shocked by Rejection's boldness.

"The ‘what if you're visible?' -- then what?"

"Then I break into an anxiety attack. I shake and shrink. I head for a dark cave and pretend I don't exist or I clean the house or file and get lost in the cracks and crevices until someone calls me out for dinner."

"What if?" persisted Rejection, seemingly ignoring my response. "What if you used me to become more?"

Intrigued I said, "Tell me more."

Rejection smiled momentarily. "What if the next time I show up we sit and chat and you can take my feedback to the you who is more, and ask them what they think?"

Vlatka is author and creator of an original series of myths called Ancient Stories by the Keeper of the Tales. She performed some of the stories for small and large audiences in Canada, which included a special program, teaching elementary students through storytelling. Vlatka’s home is in Novato, CA with her husband, daughter and Corgi socialite, Magic. Vlatka can be reached at v.herzberg@comcast.net.

Searchlights Editor:

Susan Bono

Columnists:

Christine Falcone, David Samuel Johnson, Betty Rodgers

Susan Bono is a writing coach, editor and freelance writer whose work appears in newspapers, anthologies and the Internet. She has published Tiny Lights, a journal of personal essay, since 1995, along with its online counterpart here at tiny-lights.com. From 2000—2005 she helped coordinate the Writer's Sampler series for the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Her short essays and columns have appeared in various anthologies, magazines, newspapers and on the radio. Her most recent credits include Passager Magazine, Red Hills Review, the St. Petersburg Times, the Petaluma Argus Courier, the Anderson Valley Advertiser and KRCB radio's Word by Word.

Christine Falcone has been writing most of her life. Her work has appeared in print and online, and it has aired on public television and public radio. One of her writing goals for 2008 is to find an agent for her recently completed first novel, "This Is What I Know," which was named as a finalist in the William Faulkner Wisdom Creative Writing Competition out of New Orleans. She is currently in a new writing space, painted purple for inspiration, busily at work on another novel -- this one having to do with the nature of violence.

David Samuel Johnson was reared on a mountain in Arkansas. He lived the bohemian lifestyle in the Ozarks as a hillbilly vagabond, traversing the mountainside shirtless and most of the time shoeless, exploring the sensuality of the aromatic, organic-rich soil of the forest floor or the harsh poetry of greenbriers twined around a devil’s-walking-stick. As a kid he wanted to be a writer and own a snake farm when he grew up. His Mama knew she couldn't dissuade him from either goal. When he brought a poisonous copperhead snake home in his pocket, she bought him a book about snakes so he’d know which ones he could bring home and which ones to leave behind. When he wrote his first poem to a girl in kindergarten, she showed him how to use a dictionary so he could spell the word "beautiful." David's goal of a snake farm and the love of his mountain have manifested into a PhD in ecology. David’s dream of writing has evolved from his first poem in kindergarten to essays in newspapers to interview articles in magazines and columns in this journal. He is living a beautiful dream, some of which you can glimpse below.

David the Writer

David the Scientist

Betty Rodgers and her husband, Ken, live and watch birds in Boise, Idaho. A transplant among transplants, she has chosen to learn the local landscape through the lens of her Pentax K10D. Her writing career began at an early age when she wrote plays and coerced her boy cousins to perform them. She has enjoyed a life-long affair with journalism, writing for the Sacramento Bee, the Cloudcroft Mountain Monthly, the Sebastopol Times and News, and the Boise Weekly. Born in Steinbeck Country, she has also lived in Maine and New Mexico. Betty publishes a bi-monthly online newsletter for Idaho writers, a labor of love inspired by Terry Ehret. In 2006, she published A Mano, a book of poetry by the late Vince Pedroia.

Thanks to all who participated this month. It's good to know you're out there! We're looking forward to hearing from you and those you inspired sometime soon! Check this column each month to see what's new. Return to Searchlights & Signal Flares menu for future topics and guidelines.

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